Thursday, December 8, 2016

More Cold Iowa Weather

A short post about today's festivities.   Mostly because I'm totally burned out....after another 32 stocking day.  Cheryl is feeling it too.  But what better way to remind our future selves about the pain and suffering we endure during the holidays.
Cheryl is bundled for action!

First off.... It is cold today.   Cold and windy certainly mix for an uncomfortable cocktail of miserable.  Cheryl had to go extra-bundled today to keep from freezing.   She managed to run three miles before calling it a short training day.   It's true that after mile three, you tend to warm up....but stockings were weighing heavily on her mind...so we decided to head back to the small sweat shop we call, "Home."

The garbage guys took the garbage pile I so neatly stacked on the driveway blocker.  Too bad they did not take anything else.  
The neighborhood ruffians!

The cold weather keeps our cat from straying too far from home.  However,  the next door dogs are always frisking about as if it is no big deal.   Upon hearing them bark,  I trotted out there to give them their "be quiet and chew" treats.
They were both in track in highschool

 Usually they become so
Event:  High jump!
hysterical when I approach that they  become 10 times louder!   Sometimes,  they even trigger the neighbor in the brown house to do the same thing as I do...( bribe the dogs to be quiet)  It works!

Martin give a second bribe of treats
 But today we both had the same idea and the dogs got to double dip treats.   Who ever said animals are "dumb" really have to look at how pets control people with their cuteness.  It's their hidden skill.


Stockings!  Stockings everywhere!
Dogs, cats, and basset hounds.  Lots of basset hounds!
Other than that...stockings.   Mountains of stockings.  I'm not sure why today felt longer than usual...but perhaps it has something to do with all the custom orders Cheryl was NOT supposed to have.  People just keep sending us their request.   A message to future Ethan and Cheryl:   FIX THE CUSTOM ORDER PROBLEM.    I'm not sure how to do that at the moment...but when I read this a year from now...hopefully we will have put our heads together and come up with something.  Time will tell.


Hope everyone is having a warmer day.   There is nothing like a warm hot chocolate or cup of coffee on days like these.   However,  I can do well without any afternoon caffeine....  and hot cocoa has too many calories. ( At least they way I like it)   I guess there is always cup of soup.   Stay warm!  And Thanks for stopping in.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Cheryl's Madison Marathon Award!

33 orders Packed and ready!
Pleasant surprise in the Mail
Things started off nicely for us today.   We packed up the orders and walked the 400 meters down the unfinished driveway to our car.   Cheryl just happened to check the mail from yesterday and noticed that there was a letter addressed to her....  From the Madison Marathon people.




Masters awards!   Hooray for old age!
Inside,  was her first Masters Award ( age 40+) for her 5th place overall.   It comes at a time when we need a little boost to our egos.   Our stockings are tidal waving over us currently, and Cheryl needed at least two more medals to match last years success.   We have a race planned in Indianapolis after Stockings are over, but ....at best,   that would land her only one medal for finishing.   This small token allows her to tie last years running season.   She is very happy.



It was a cold day today...and tomorrow it is meant to be even colder!   Despite all of this,   Cheryl decided to run the full 7 miles today.    Stockings piling up,  time being so  precious...and yet she runs.  In the cold!    Yesterday was a pleasant sunny day...but we could only run three miles because we are so far behind with the orders.    But today,  in an effort to maximize misery in the cold,   she decided that 7 miles was essential.  I'm not sure what happens to the brain of a runner during the cold,   but it defies logic.

In addition to that,  we have been forced to step up our game even MORE.  Cheryl suggested tackling 37 stockings today so we do not fall too far behind.  The real test will come next week...when we will have one week to catch totally up.



 If we are further behind than 50 stockings,   we are sunk!  (because we have to leave for the above mentioned race  at the end of it.)   so the plan is to slowly advance our number until we get caught up or get things back down to 30 a night.

With a little luck,  The garbage guys will take the digger too!
Other than that,  the Driveway continues to be blocked by machinery....and tomorrow is trash day.  This is AWESOME because they missed us last week.   and stuff is only piling up as our production continues to mount.    So.....I had an idea.

What better way to voice my dissent than to lug all of our garbage out to the street....in front of their digger!  It will not really matter if they driveway guys decide to show up tomorrow in the afternoon.   But if they decide to arrive in the morning...before the garbage guys....  they might understand a bit how they put us out.

It probably is only a big deal in my mind.   No one will even notice.   (not even the garbage guys!)
Smooth and tasty!   Wisconsin beers are Awesome! 
 But it is late and I'm winding down with some Wisconsin beer we scored at the above mentioned marathon.  Spotted Cow Grand Cru!   It is so smooth and perhaps it effects my judgement slightly when trying to harass the construction guys about their apathetic work process.   But my small act of rebellion...other than ranting about it on these pages,  is the only way I can lash out.  Call me dangerous!

Hope everyone is getting good things in their mail today.   And hopefully the weather will not get much colder as the season progresses.   After all,  Cheryl continues to want to run in this atmosphere.   And I somehow get dragged along with her....  Have a good one!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

New Phone, New Camera, New Pictures, More Stockings! Dud Driveway...

Let it be said that Allenbrite Studio is a late adopter of technology.  But at some point,  even Cheryl and Ethan have to embrace the marvels of new Tech.  And so it was that Cheryl purchased an Android from Motorola.
Me with the New Android

I guess we have been long enough without a phone....but these new little "Tri-quarters" ( Star Trek Lingo)  have so many other capabilities that helps to add to their value.   Namely...they have a camera!

And not just some cheap crap camera.... I would say it is pretty good.  It can take action shots and has a fairly good definition that rivals the Nikon One!   And so Cheryl purchased one for me as well.


Forget the phone..or Gmail, or Google, or any of the hundreds of apps that the Android brags about.... I took the camera out for a spin today.   We delivered packages as always and went out for a brief run in Coralville.






Running in the cold
Time to down-dress
 The weather was cold so Cheryl had to start out kind of bundled, but eventually down-dressed as we were finishing up.  Overall, it was a nice sunny day with a brisk windchill.   Not too bad.







Now the heats up!



Setting up the stockings during the daylight.
And then there are the stockings!   Back to back days of over 30 and we continue to fall behind.   Now the messages have become, "where is my stuff" which puts more pressure on us to get them out even faster.   However,  the slow delivery is not really our fault....  it's the post office.
Cheryl's army of Cut-out critters!
 There is little that we can do about your package that is stuck in Indiana for the last week.  Yet we are forced to apologize and ask for the customer to wait the full three weeks allowed.  It begins to wear at you.




They can drive on it...so....
Driveway finished?  
In addition to "All things beyond our control";   the driveway,  now seemingly finished.  continues to be blocked by the work trucks and equipment.   I actually thought they would be done and cleaned up by this afternoon.   They were driving on the concrete, so I know it is safe, dry and ready by now.   Subie does not weigh as much as one of those excavators.  So why not let us drive on it?   The additional day of walking through the neighbors yard to the street...with a load of packages....in the mud and cold,  while still groggy from lack of sleep....is enough to make anyone come unhinged!
But why can's WE drive on it?
Tarps cover the "new" concrete
Hope everyone is having a good day.   Maybe you got some new tech for an early Christmas Present.   I still have to figure out how to make my phone talk to my computer for the pictures.  It is still simple to pull out a small disk to plug into the computer for picture transfer.   But perhaps there is a shortcut I have yet to discover....we shall see.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

When Living the Dream Seems Like a Nightmare

The other day, one of our neighbors said that working from home must be awesome!   And wondered how she could do it.  

I warned her not to try it....  half in jest...  Half serious!

I'm not sure what is happening this year, but we seem to be swamped!

Cheryl is giddy from lack of sleep!
Normally this is a good thing,  however we have not had a break in over a week now.  Today we sewed up another 40 stockings and the list of orders continues to grow instead of diminish.  Add in that the quitting time for each day continues to be pushed back.   Right  now it is almost 10:00 P.M.  and Cheryl continues to pack things up.
Snow covers the driveway..



Ah, but listen to me....complaining that sales are "too good!" for our own well being....  Most Etsy people would probably love to have this problem. But as the grind begins to wear on your body and mind....  sometimes you think that this will be the last year ...again.  I believe we say this will be the last time we do this every year!


As Cheryl nearly causes a disaster by packing up the wrong stocking...I'm reminded of the other news that happened today.   Namely...it snowed!
And the concrete

And the HUGE hole that still needs fixing
As if predicting that the driveway guys were waiting for the weather to become more festive,   the driveway is now buried under three to four inches of thick, sloppy, wet snow.  I'm sure it will only Add to the concrete dry time and make it "just that much more inconvenient" for us.

Not to mention the snow made driving to Iowa City  tons of fun.   Don't get me wrong,  Subie loves the snow!   But driving in slush is still unnerving for me because I would loath slipping off the road out in the middle of farm land.  Not only would it hurt my pride,  and Subie's....But it would take away valuable time that needs to be spent on Stocking orders!


Babe and Prince pogo for treats. 
I know more pet names than residents.
Our Cat does not seem to enjoy the snow very much...but the neighbors dogs do not seem to mind at all.   I give them treats to keep them from barking at squirrels.  It works like a charm....except when they bark at me..thinking I am coming to give them treats.   Somethings simply can't be won.


Hope everyone else is braving the weather and the holiday season better.  If it snowed in your area,  well,  good luck with that.   Snow is fun for the holidays as long as you don't have to drive in it.  I'm sure there were other things I wanted to blog about today...but between the lack of sleep and the after action beer....I can't seem to remember what they were now.   Only 14 more days of this nightmare to go!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

When Being To Good is a Bad Thing.

I'm talking about the Stockings, of course.   But more specifically...me!   I know what you are thinking.  "How can The Great Ethan Allen be to good at Anything?"   It's true...sometimes I even impress myself ( which is rare...) but today I discovered that my customer service skills bring in to many NEW orders!   I shall explain.

My entire job today was to tell people we were not going to be able to do their custom stockings.   My flair with prose seems to have magically swept up a number of people...because upon delivering the bad news,  they not only thanked me.... but then proceeded to order several stockings for their family....and THEN told me that they did not mind when Fido and Felix's stockings were made, because they were pets and would not notice that Christmas was over.  From Doom and Despair to even MORE SALES!

Of course,  this action gets me fired again.

Apparently.... My sales pitches are causing us to fall even further behind.   And Cheryl is more interested in getting us caught up rather than making promises for the new year.     Ah well,   who wants all that money anyway?  I guess I'll have to focus my writing elsewhere and keep my talents hidden....again.

Drive way BEFORE 
Drive way NOW
In other parts of history....I have located the blog post about the driveway fiasco in 2011!  Notice the concrete before and after.  It is reassuring that the guys are taking the weekend off.  You would think that they would embrace the extra days of Concrete drying that could happen over the weekend.   Ah well, I guess they don't live here so it is not really a priority.
Drive way NOW
Drive way BEFORE




I guess we are currently doing better than last year...which is not saying much.   Last year as almost as bad as 2012!  My hope is that all of this additional work and headache is actually worth it in the end.   We do have Boston coming up and Cheryl does not want to work at a job this summer (we shall see about that,  not that I want to either!)  So fingers crossed that Hard work actually pays off.   Because....from my limited experience,  it rarely balances out for the effort invested.

before signing off,  A few customers have blessed us with their stockings and how we managed to ...somehow,  make the season a little more festive for them...  enjoy!















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